Kitchens come in all shapes and sizes, from commercial stainless-steel giants to small narrow galleys. It is a place where I am extremely comfortable. From my cozy farm kitchen to large kitchens in halls or church basements, I hesitate to calculate the hours of my life that have been spent in a kitchen. But while I was pondering this room where meals and snacks are prepared, I found that much of what happens in the kitchen can be related to writing.
For instance, a quick meal of canned tomato soup paired with a grilled cheese sandwich is comparable to jotting down ideas on the go, perhaps on napkins or other scraps of paper. The ideas then percolate like coffee and bubble up and grow like bread dough rising. Sometimes we need to pause and let thoughts simmer like homemade soup or a pot of chili, to blend and bring forth subtle flavours. It requires patience.
Occasionally you might experiment with a new recipe and it turns out to be bland and unappealing. A flop. You end up tossing the whole works in the trash, like a stinky first draft, and start over.
As we baste a roasting turkey with care, a delicious aroma fills our home. Our writing also needs to be basted with times of quiet prayer, to allow the fragrance of the Lord to rise from our written words. A roast beef becomes more tender as it roasts slow and low. As writers of faith, we need to slow down, taking the time to make sure Christ’s tenderness permeates our work.
If you’ve ever made a cabbage roll you know they need to be rolled tight, not too big and not too small. Sometimes you need to add or take away filling to make it the perfect size. They must hold together as they bake in the oven and stay together as you lift them out of the pan. Just like editing. Cutting here, adding a word there, to provide a concise tight composition. It takes practice, just like making the perfect cabbage roll, to edit and free our work from any unnecessary words or phrases, or to add a word or two for clarity. Sous chefs, a.k.a. beta readers, are invaluable in this process. Many eyes make clear work.
Once our meal is ready, we fill the tables with a variety of foods. Hot and steamy bowls of spuds, glowing gravy, tender cuts of meat, colourful vegetables and fresh fruit. A veritable feast prepared with love. But a feast is never for one. Our family, friends, and complete strangers can be invited to the table and so it is with our creations. If we are called by God to write, it means allowing others to read and share in our journey of faith. Readers are welcome to come to the table to devour and digest our words. What is appetizing to one may leave a sour taste in the mouth of another. But as they share together what is spread before them, we pray that respectful conversation will result and that in our meagre efforts God will be glorified.
My prayer is that God would season our writing with just the right amount of spice, not too salty and not overpowered with pepper. May He give us many ideas to simmer on our brainwaves and may we like bread, rise to the work of writing those ideas down, creating with the Creator. And to God be the glory.